Snake Dike 5.7 R

  • Currently 5.0/5

Half Dome

Yosemite Valley, California USA

Trip Report
Climbing SD with my boy, TR, lots of photos
Monday July 27, 2009 2:50pm
This is a trip report primarily about my oldest son Ky, and his first multi-pitch climb. I have 3 boys, 9-year-old twins, and 11-year-old Kyler. All 3 of them love to climb, and have been climbing since they could walk. They have all been up the cables route, and handled it fine.

How this all came to happenÖ

Ky and I were out one day and a friend asked about Snake Dike. I have climbed it a few times, so I hyped it up to convince him it was worth the approach. A while later, while hiking back to the car, Ky told me he wanted to climb Snake Dike. My first thought was to dismiss it, I mean is that the kind of climb to take a young kid on? Something with a long, difficult approach, run out slab climbing, and a long descent? But I questioned him further and he seemed serious about it. There were complications, though, Ky only weighs 90 pounds, heís not heavy enough to belay me, so I would need someone else to go. I called another friend that had been wanting to do it, and we set a date for July 22.

July 22, 2009

I woke Ky up at 1:45 am, and we were on the road out of Bridgeport at 2:15. We picked up Dave at the Whoa Nellie at 2:45, and headed into the Park. We parked near curry, rode our bikes down to Happy Isles, and hit the trail by 4:30.

Ky, Dave, and me at the Happy Isles trailhead, oh dark thirty

As you would expect, there were few people on the trail, just a couple of groups, and we motored past them on our way up to the top of Vernal Falls. Ky was having a few second thoughts about this whole thing, and needed a little encouragement to keep going.

Ky and Dave just below the top of Vernal Falls

We had decided to take the shortcut on the approach, the route that goes between Mt. Broderick and Liberty Cap, it is supposed to be shorter, and it skips all of those switch backs on the way up to Little Yosemite Valley. I had taken this route once before, many years ago, with my Dad, but didnít remember it all that well, and it was a good call. It was beautiful in there.

The flowers were thick in here, it felt like a national park inside a national park. Photo by D-Mac

There was mostly a good use trail, but being the boys that we are, we had to go under every little tunnel made by rockfall along the way.

On the use trail

One of the tunnels created by rockfall

The longest rockfall tunnel we found, Ky was the only one slender enough to send it

And he popped out here

There were a few sections of thick trees, but most of it was very pleasant hiking, mostly shady, and no one else was in there.

Photo by D-Mac

Photo by D-Mac

We were able to avoid most of the brush on the way up to the scrambling section of the approach, and we saw a party of 2 ahead of us. They were quite a way ahead, so we were hopeful that they would be 2 or so pitches up by the time we got to the base.

Ky and me on the short scramble section of the approach. Photo by D-Mac

Ky cruising the scramble

But it didnít happen that way. It was a couple, and they did not know where the route started, so they were wandering around on the shoulder looking for the route. The female member of the party was about to pull the plug, she thought that if her partner couldnít even find the route, he was not a good bet to take her up.

We pointed them in the right direction, but they elected to let us go first, an option that we gratefully accepted. That is one of the main challenges of this route, it is so popular that you stand a good chance of being in a long line of parties strung along the route. To combat this we had chosen a weekday, and had left early, but still didnít arrive at the base until 8:30 am. But now we were in the front! I racked up with .3, .4, .5, & .75 Camalots, #8, #10, & #12 stoppers, 2 QDs, 2 slings, and 2 cordelettes. I never used the stoppers, but did use everything else.

Ky and me at the base, scoping the first pitch. Photo by D-Mac

I headed up the first pitch, and made decent time. This was the only pitch that was in the shade, we didnít start climbing until 9 am, later than we wanted, but that was how it worked out.

Cruising the first pitch in the nice cool shade. Photo by D-Mac

To make time, I had planned to belay both Ky and Dave simultaneously, and it worked out well. The party of 2 was on our heels for a little while, but we soon put some distance on them, eventually finishing maybe 2 pitches ahead.

Ky pulling up to the first belay ledge, Heís having fun!

Placing a small cam below the small roof during the traverse. Photo by D-Mac

I was a little concerned about Ky on the second pitch with itís 2 traversing sections, but we had a strategy. After I set the belay, Ky came up next and Dave gave him a back-belay so that if he fell he wouldnít pendulum. But no worries, he didnít fall. Ky has climbed as hard as 5.10b, but this was a different kind of climbing for him, all friction feet, very few solid handholds. So I was wondering how he would handle it, but he did fine. And since no one told him he should be scared, he wasnít really too uncomfortable up there. We ran out of shade on this pitch, but there was a nice breeze, and it was pretty comfortable the whole way up.

Looking down from the top of the second pitch. You can see the top of Kyís and Daveís helmets.

Ky coming up the 2nd pitch, just above the roof and traverse.

Ky unclipping one of the few bolts on the route as he goes by on pitch 2.

Pitch 3 is the first pitch where youíre actually installed on the dike, and the climbing is fun, the route-finding elementary, and cleaning the gear takes no time at all.

On the 3rd pitch. Photo by D-Mac

Ky and Dave at the bottom of the 3rd pitch.

Ky on the 3rd pitch. Photo by D-Mac

Ky moving up the 3rd pitch.

I didnít bring a topo, I had been up this thing a half-dozen times before, so I messed up the 4th pitch again. It is really short, with no bolts or pro at all except the belay bolts. But I arrived at the belay bolts so quickly that I thought that it was just a redundant clip, so I clipped them and passed on through. I couldnít find any more bolts, I did sling a chicken-head maybe 100 feet out, and kept moving. Soon I ran out of rope, about 35 feet below the anchors for the end of the 5th pitch.

Ky and Dave climbing the 3rd & 4th pitches combined.

Kyís almost to the belay.

I found a horn and slung that for a short belay to get Dave to the belay bolts for the 4th pitch. Once Dave was established, we brought Ky to there, and I finished the 5th pitch.

Ky climbing the 4th pitch. Photo by D-Mac

Iím at the top of the 5th pitch, which has one bolt the whole way. Photo by D-Mac

Ky almost to the top of the 5th pitch. Photo by D-Mac

Once Ky and Dave arrived, I headed up the 6th pitch, which is pretty casual, climbing-wise, with one bolt on a short, steep little headwall, then the belay.

Ky on the 6th pitch. Photo by D-Mac

Ky still on the 6th pitch. Photo by D-Mac

Ky on the short little steep section.

We continued on up the 7th pitch, which is way easy but way run out, I found one cam placement, that was about it. I imagine that real climbers donít place anything on this pitch. But we didn't see any climbers like that.

Ky at the top of the 7th pitch. Still smilingÖ

We finished up the 8th pitch, also easy, and I sewed it up, placing 2 cams along the way.

Kyís climbing footwear of choice, the Vector. This is the 2nd time those shoes have done this route, but thatís another (sad) story for another day.

Those of you who have done this route know whatís next, the section to the summit described as 2nd and 3rd class friction forever. The 8 pitches had taken us 4 hours, which isnít too bad for a party of 3. Not that great either, I guess.

Starting the 2nd & 3rd class forever slog to the top. Photo by D-Mac

We slogged up to the top, and as expected there were quite a few folks up there, and they were clogging up the cables descent. We were eager to get down, as we crested the summit we saw and heard a large T-Storm off to the northeast, and we didnít want to wait around for it to get closer.

A big olí T-Storm over Tuolumne, moving our way. Photo by D-Mac

It was roastiní hot on the hike down, we stopped 3 times to dunk our heads and cool down, then we ran out of water, but kept plodding down. We drank at the bridge and at the spring near the bottom, and then jumped on our bikes and headed to the store for Gatorades and ice cream to fortify us for the 2.5 hour drive home. From home-to-home, we were gone for 20 hours, a huge day for an 11-year-old on his first multi-pitch, but he took it in stride. Iím proud of my little boy, and his big effort. Now how am I gonna get those 2 nine-year-olds up there?

  Trip Report Views: 2,113
About the Author
bearbnz is a trad climber from East Side, California.

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Just livin' the dream on the California coast
  Jul 27, 2009 - 02:58pm PT
KICK ARSE, Bear!!!

This is what dads should be doing with their progeny! Excellent TR and those photos--damn, I'm still laughing about the first one.

Thank you thank you thank you!

Trad climber
Living Outside the Statist Quo
  Jul 27, 2009 - 03:08pm PT
Pretty cool, and now he has a great "what i did this summer" story when school starts. That is a fun climb, did a few years ago and its enjoyable to see it again.
Thanks for posting the tr.


Random Nobody
  Jul 27, 2009 - 03:24pm PT
Really cool set of photos...

Great TR guys.

hey Ky, keep climbing.. it's good for you!!!


Trad climber
Seattle, WA
  Jul 27, 2009 - 03:32pm PT
Great Report... Thanks so much for the inspiration... Kick ass job by KY... I cant wait to get my 8 1/2 mo. old up thier someday!
Big props to KY

Social climber
flagstaff arizona
  Jul 27, 2009 - 03:41pm PT
great trip report! i need to get my kids back out on the stone.

Trad climber
Santa Clara, CA
  Jul 27, 2009 - 03:45pm PT

A good TR has lotsa pics, well done. Ky was stylin' too!

Social climber
Mill Valley, CA
  Jul 27, 2009 - 03:52pm PT
Outstanding. My kids have to see this tonight.

Vision man...ya gotta have vision...
  Jul 27, 2009 - 04:04pm PT
That was cool! Thx!

Trad climber
  Jul 27, 2009 - 04:04pm PT
Good stuff Maynard!!

Trad climber
Nothing creative to say
  Jul 27, 2009 - 04:05pm PT
good climbing content ++

mark miller

Social climber
  Jul 27, 2009 - 04:07pm PT
Awesome pics, thanks makes me want to do the route again, it's been about 7 years, it's time.
scuffy b

heading slowly NNW
  Jul 27, 2009 - 04:15pm PT
Mighty fine. The love shines through.
You turn some cute phrases in there, too.

And since nobody told him should be scared...

Did I mention that the pictures are beautiful?

Trad climber
  Jul 27, 2009 - 04:16pm PT
This makes my day! it makes me want to get my kids out even more!

Mountain climber
Zurich, Switzerland
  Jul 27, 2009 - 04:39pm PT
Great photos and great story - your youngsters will have some special memories when they're older.

Big Wall climber
Terrapin Station
  Jul 27, 2009 - 04:44pm PT
That is straight up awesome.

I will be sharing this with my kids too.

It's on the list. Well done Dadz!!

Just livin' the dream on the California coast
  Jul 27, 2009 - 06:25pm PT
Bump for The Best Thread of the Day.

Trad climber
San Diego
  Jul 27, 2009 - 06:32pm PT
Thanks for taking the time to write that up! It was AWESOME - just on question - how do the kids work out who gets to go?
Mark Hudon

Trad climber
On the road.
  Jul 27, 2009 - 06:32pm PT
What a great adventure for him!

Trad climber
Sacramento sucks
  Jul 27, 2009 - 07:56pm PT
a bump and a thanks for that- been wanting to do that route just not the approach haha.
Iron Mtn.

Trad climber
Seattle Washington
  Jul 27, 2009 - 08:45pm PT
Nice trip report. I really enjoyed the pitch by pitch photographs and I wish my son shared the same enthusiasm that your's does for climbing.

  Jul 27, 2009 - 10:01pm PT
Right On! This is a great Trip Report!
Kyle is all right.

Social climber
  Jul 27, 2009 - 10:17pm PT
hey there say, this is A WONDERFUL trip report.... i did not get to enjoy all the pics, though, due to down load slowness, of dial up, but i will be back when i can and see them sometime, but by the set up and titles, i can imagine it right-fine...

you did a great job... happy climbing for you and the dear son... god bless...:)
J. Werlin

Social climber
Cedaredge, CO
  Jul 27, 2009 - 10:35pm PT
excellent--nice photos of the dike. Way to be a cool Dad.

Gym climber
  Jul 27, 2009 - 10:46pm PT

Way out there....
  Jul 27, 2009 - 10:57pm PT
Thanks for the TR! My kids are stoked!
goatboy smellz

Gulf Breeze
  Jul 27, 2009 - 11:04pm PT
Way to go guys!

Trad climber
East Side, California
Author's Reply  Jul 28, 2009 - 10:46am PT
ThomasKeefer wrote: "Thanks for taking the time to write that up! It was AWESOME - just on question - how do the kids work out who gets to go?"

Sometimes it's tough, but in this case, Ky requested the trip, so he got to go.

Thanks everyone for your great replies, Ky was jazzed to read all of the positive things y'all wrote. He's been going through all of my routebooks looking for his next objective...

Sport climber
Paradise--Bishop, California
  Jul 28, 2009 - 12:19pm PT
Great TR! Well done!! inspiring!!! Now, Dads pay attention. That's the proper way to initiate a boy into the masculine jorney. A man needs to know that he is got what it takes when it counts. You certainly got what it takes Ky--you are an animal!!!

Trad climber
  Jul 28, 2009 - 02:17pm PT
Nice Work!

Trad climber
The pitch of Bagalaar above you
  Jul 28, 2009 - 03:02pm PT
Good show!

Great Pix

A++++ TR!

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